Russ Winton: Wine List

June 28, 2012

If you like Italian wines, Jamestown is the place

I read about wine all the time. It's what I do. All wine, all the time.

When I read about a small winery in Jamestown winning three gold medals at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, I began to salivate.

The three gold medals went to a 2010 fiano, a 2009 alianico and a 2009 montepulciano. Also, the winery's barbera, sangiovese and red blend "Nino" took home silver and bronze awards. The winery is Gianelli Vineyards and if you like Italian wines, a visit to Jamestown is in order.

Ron and Lorie Gianelli grow 18 varietals on 27 acres that have been in the family since the late 1800s. The first vineyards were planted in 2003. Their winemaker is Chuck Hovey, who I refer to as the "dean" of Sierra foothill winemakers.

Gianelli Vineyards also makes dolcetto, vermentino, nebbiolo, petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon and a super Tuscan blend, all previous medal winners. The tasting room is on Main Street in Jamestown. It's open daily and is only about one hour from Merced.

Across the street from the Gianelli tasting room is Brice Station. This Calaveras County winery is four miles above Murphys, at an elevation of 3,300 feet. The altitude allows them to produce Bordeaux-style wines.

Brice Station Vineyard's cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc were high on my list while the editor favored the merlot. The relaxed vibe in the tasting room reflects their motto: "Altitude not Attitude." The tasting room is open Friday through Sunday.

Two small Tuolumne County wineries, La Bella Rosa and Mt. Brow, are a few miles outside of Jamestown. La Bella Rosa Winery is on Old Wards Ferry Road.

Owner Ron Peterson has built a beautiful winery on gorgeous landscaped grounds. My advice is to buy a bottle and have a picnic. The breeze kicks in early in the afternoon and there is plenty of shade for a nap. The winery is open on weekends.

Mt. Brow Winery is open only on Saturday; Jim Costello, owner and winemaker, will more than likely be your host. Mt. Brow produces about 1,200 cases from six acres of sangiovese, merlot and zinfandel.

My favorite was the tartaglia, a special family red blend. Take the Jamestown Road (on your left after the stoplight) for about four miles, turn left on Mt. Brow Road and the winery will be on your right.

The editor and I have had lunch at the Willow Hotel and the National Hotel in Jamestown, and both are quite good. The National Hotel has a quiet shady outdoor patio and both have reliable air conditioning.

You can taste award winning wines, meet some friendly people, have a nice lunch and be home in time to watch "The Dr. Oz Show."

Life is good. Cheers!

What's on our Table: 2009 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha. This is a wine I always look for when I'm in Costco. It is dark ruby red with rich aromas of ripe berries. It is full-bodied with flavors of blackberries, leather and plums with soft round tannins, giving it a long smooth finish. It is 100 percent garnacha (grenache) and only $12.99. Sweet.

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